Times are changing.  Education must be transformed. 

August 17, 2023 | Sharon Sedlar

Education used to be only for the wealthy. Then it became a social and community necessity. As the Cato School Choice Timeline details, Pennsylvania passed a law in 1802 that allowed poor children to attend schools “in their neighborhood” (which included religious schools), funded by the government. Virginia, Delaware and other states followed.  Education soon became compulsory, in ever-increasing time strains. According to the PA Department of Education, students must currently attend 180 days of instruction, with penalties as severe as jail time for parents who are unable to enforce this requirement. Rules, regulations, standardized testing, and graduation requirements abound and complicate the education horizon for families and students – all based on where you live and what you can afford.

Want something different in PA? You pay for it out of pocket. It doesn’t matter that your zip-code aligned school can’t teach your child, is dangerous, or doesn’t have heat or air conditioning. It doesn’t matter if your child has been harmed, abused, or bullied. They are expected to remain in that zip-code assigned geographically designated area unless you can pay to remove them. 

Who is really in control? The parent or the system? Why do we need permission to choose education for our own child and why does the system and policies largely seek to further trap children rather than free them?

COVID, as awful as it was, provided an opportunity for us to see permissionless education in practice. Innovators, businesses, educators, parents, and many others joined and pieced together plans to best support their children. And while some may not have been extremely successful, neither were many district programs that were staffed with thousands of educational experts.

Parents saw a renewal of family relationships, a re-kindling of learning appetites within their children, and many have refused to return to the “same old way”. But many constraints within the system and their protectionist policies want to reduce the new-found freedom, and even completely nullify education options that have been commonplace for decades.

As Jeanne Allen pointed out – “It shouldn’t take a pandemic to realize that families must have access to permissionless, individualized opportunities to find the right fit for their students – opportunities that bring education into the 21st century.

Times are changing, and education must be transformed to suit.

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